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  1. 5 Urban Legends About Sickle Cell Disease and How to Overcome Them

    November 3, 2016 by Andrea


    This time of year, when darkness falls, it's fun to gather around and share spooky rumors of nearby haunts. When it comes to sickle cell, though, spreading truth is a much better option.

    Here are 5 sickle cell myths and the truths behind them. Arm yourselves with this knowledge, and educate your community to foster understanding and awareness.

    1) Sickle cell is contagious.
    Possibly one of the biggest misconceptions out there, this statement is completely untrue. Sickle cell is genetic, so the only way a person can get it is if they inherit one sickle cell gene from each parent. People cannot contract it through blood transfusions, being near someone with it, or any other way other than genetics.

    2) There is no cure for sickle cell.
    Technically, bone marrow transplantation can potentially cure SCD. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, it's quite difficult to find a donor who's a good match, and the risks of transplantation can be serious. Since donors are scarce and risks are high, treatment is focused on reducing pain and occurrences of crises. The good news, according to Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, though is that because of major medical advancements in recent years, bone marrow transplants have become safer for children.

    3) People with SCD cannot live long lives.
    This may have been true decades ago -- back in 1973, life expectancy was just 14 years -- but now, we are seeing warriors living well into old age. In 2014, for example, sickle cell warrior Richard Mitchell celebrated 70 years. Last year, a Nigerian woman named Asiata Onikoyi-Laguda celebrated her 90th birthday!

    4) Only Black people can have sickle cell.
    In reality, since SCD affects the blood and all people have blood, anyone can inherit it (see myth #1). It is more common, though, in African Americans because of the gene's beginnings in Africa as a natural protection from malaria. SCD is also common in people from Central and South America, the Middle East, Asia, India, and the Mediterranean, reports the American Society of Hematology.

    5). Sickle cell is the same for everyone.
    Actually, there are several different types of SCD, and some forms -- like sickle cell anemia -- are more severe than others.

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